PCOS: Vigorous Exercise Has Measurable Health Benefits
PCOS: Vigorous Exercise Has Measurable Health Benefits

PCOS: Vigorous Exercise Has Measurable Health Benefits

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may improve their general health with vigorous exercise.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has a lifelong impact on women suffering from the condition. PCOS can cause issues with a woman’s menstrual cycles, which can make getting pregnant a challenge, change the way a woman looks, and may also lead to serious health problems. There has been recent interest in the role of intense exercise accompanying a dietary regimen for patients with polycystic ovaries.

In a rather rigorous study 326 PCOS patients between the age of 14 and 52 performed an average of three hours of vigorous activity per week. To meet this criteria, vigorous exercise was defined as activities that require hard physical effort to make you breathe much harder than normal. These include heavy lifting, yard work and fast bicycling for instance.

Fast walking or light jogging would qualify. There was a control group, which was inactive. This was not a study of fertility, but was a study of the other benefits exercise can have on women with PCOS. The intensity of the exercise was key. Moderate exercise did not accomplish the same improvement.

The results included lowering weight and waist circumference, increasing the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and sugar levels. Insulin resistance was also shown to benefit. This was a remarkable original study and we congratulate the authors for their diligence.

Once again, this was not an infertility study. But we do know through other studies that for an overweight woman, losing about 10 percent of her body weight is associated with improved fertility outcomes in infertility treatment. Patients with PCOS who are trying to conceive should integrate vigorous exercise into their lifestyle.

Exercise and PCOS at Pathways Fertility

Other studies on the benefits of exercise for PCOS patients showed that 150 minutes per week of moderate activity improved sugar levels and fasting insulin levels. An example of moderate activity would be slow walking. If you cannot walk very well, that qualifies as vigorous exercise. The outcomes were all better in the patients with either moderate or vigorous exercise than in an inactive group. At Pathways, we recommend that PCOS patients exercise either 75 minutes of vigorous or 150 minutes of moderate activity each week to help control the effects of polycystic ovary syndrome.

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